Physician-Scientist at Texas Children's Cancer Center Receives $486,000 Grant to Advance Research in Childhood Cancer

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 Cancer News
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HOUSTON, Aug. 17 Donald W. (Will) Parsons, M.D., a physician at Texas Children's Cancer Center and Baylor College of Medicine, has been honored with a 2010 Doris Duke Clinical Scientist Development Award. Dr. Parsons, who works in collaboration with Dr. Richard Gibbs at Baylor College of Medicine's Human Genome Sequencing Center, specializes in the genomic analysis of brain tumors. With this award, Parsons will focus on advancing his research in the development of large-scale (genomic) methods to identify and evaluate cancer-causing mutations in gliomas, one of the most deadly types of brain tumors. His goal is to rapidly identify genetic alterations that may serve as targets for new diagnostic tests and treatments. To learn more about research going on in the Texas Children's Cancer Center, see:

Parsons is one of 12 physician-scientists nationally to receive this prestigious award, and will receive $486,000 over three years from The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation's Medical Research Program, to support his research studying pediatric brain tumors.

"It is truly an honor to receive this award," says Parsons. "The sponsored research will provide urgently-needed information about the biology of pediatric gliomas, which we hope to translate into improved care for our patients. The award will also provide valuable support for the development of my research career as an independent physician-scientist scientist at Texas Children's Cancer Center."

Dr. Parsons' work has resulted in the identification of numerous mutated genes and genetic pathways that contribute to tumor initiation and progression, providing a novel view of the genetic landscape of human cancers. For example, his analysis of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most lethal brain tumor of both adults and children, for the first time identified mutation of the isocitrate dehydrogenase genes (IDH1 and IDH2) as a common and critical event in the development of gliomas. This discovery has opened a new and potentially clinically-useful area of brain tumor research. Further work evaluating the functional relation of these mutations to glioma development and the applicability of this finding for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes is ongoing.

"It's wonderful that the research Dr. Parsons is conducting has been recognized and supported by this most prestigious and distinguished award," says Dr. David Poplack, Director of Texas Children's Cancer Center. "His work is essential in our long-term goal to finding a cure for brain tumors and we are thrilled that he has been honored with this award."

Since 1998, the Doris Duke Medical Research Program has committed approximately $360 million to strengthen and support clinical research, which advances the translation of basic biomedical discoveries into new treatments, preventions and cures for human diseases. To learn more about the program or to receive competition announcements, visit

Dr. Parsons' pediatric brain tumor research is also funded by the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, the Gillson-Longenbaugh Foundation, Golfers Against Cancer, the Hoglund Foundation, and the Ready-or-Not Foundation.

Media inquiries, please contact Nicole Truscinski at Meece Media / 212.677.2748

About Texas Children's Cancer Center

As an international leader in pediatric cancer research and treatment, Texas Children's Cancer Center is dedicated to providing novel therapies and family-centered care to children from infancy through young adulthood with cancer and blood disorders - from the most common to rare. Ranked 5th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, making the Center #1 outside the northeast United States as well as #1 in Texas, Texas Children's Cancer Center treats more childhood cancer patients than any other program in the U.S., with patients coming from 35 states and 26 countries around the world. Learn more at

About Texas Children's Hospital

Texas Children's Hospital is committed to a community of healthy children by providing the finest pediatric patient care, education and research. Renowned worldwide for its expertise and breakthrough developments in clinical care and research, Texas Children's is nationally ranked in all ten subspecialties in U.S. News & World Report's list of America's Best Children's Hospitals. Texas Children's also operates the nation's largest primary pediatric care network, with more than 40 offices throughout the greater Houston community. Texas Children's has embarked on a $1.5 billion expansion, Vision 2010, which includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute(TM), a comprehensive obstetrics facility focusing on high-risk births and a community hospital in suburban West Houston. For more information on Texas Children's Hospital, go to Get the latest news from Texas Children's Hospital by visiting the online newsroom and on Twitter at

SOURCE Texas Children's Hospital

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